Mar 10, 2013 - ALBERTA FAMILIES LOBBY FOR TOUGHER DRUNK DRIVING PENALTIES

Sheri Arsenault and her son Bradley were eating dinner and watching the news when they learned that four high-school football players were killed in a Grande Prairie car crash.

A saddened Arsenault remembers turning to her 18-year-old son. The first words out of her mouth were, “What are those poor moms going to do?”

Just over one month later, a knock on Arsenault’s door catapulted her into the same nightmare the Grande Prairie moms were living.

On November 26, 2011, Arsenault’s son Bradley and his friends Kole Novak and Thaddeus Lake were killed by an alleged drunk driver in a horrific crash near Beaumont, a small town south of Edmonton.

Bradley loved snowboarding, skateboarding and dirt biking and was enrolled to study engineering at NAIT.

“I miss him terribly every day,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault, alongside other families who have been devastated by drunk driving, are petitioning the government for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for people convicted of impaired driving causing death.

“We truly believe with these sentences so low, it doesn’t deter anybody. Most Canadians consider it a joke,” Arsenault said.

Last month, Brenden Holubowich, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in the Grande Prairie crash and was handed a three-year sentence. While not for impaired driving, Arsenault said that sentence only further fueled her fire.

“What it told me, and I believe every Canadian, is our child’s life doesn’t really matter,” she said.

Arsenault has helped bring an organization called Families for Justice, which was founded in British Columbia, to Alberta. A legal petition asking for tougher impaired driving laws was launched by the group and has more than 20,000 signatures.

“They committed a murder. If they had used a knife or a gun, they would be looking at a sentence of seven to ten years for a homicide. Why is it that a two or three thousand pound vehicle is used and people are getting six months or less?” said Markita Kaulius.

Kaulius started Families for Justice in 2011, just three months after her 22-year-old daughter Kassandra was killed by a drunk driver in a crash in British Columbia.

The woman who killed Kassandra was sentenced in December to 37 months in prison. Kaulius said that given Canada’s justice system, her daughter’s killer will likely only serve one sixth of her sentence, or less than six months, before she can apply for day parole.

On Monday, Kaulius will be meeting with federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in Vancouver on behalf of Families for Justice.

Kaulius and Arsenault are committed to getting as many signatures as they can on the petition, until Canada’s impaired driving laws are changed.

“Every day that this continues, we lose more people,” Kaulius said. “There’s four people a day who die in Canada to an impaired driver and 190 a day are injured.”

For Arsenault, petitioning for tougher drunk driving penalties has been a way to keep both busy and sane while she waits for the preliminary trial for the man who allegedly killed her son Bradley.

“I wanted to do something for my son to leave a legacy behind,” she said.

“We will always remember him because we will fight to save other Canadians from this crime of choice.”

Petition Facts:

  • The petition is a legal document and must be printed, signed and mailed to Families for Justice. It can be found here.
  • The petition asks for new mandatory minimum sentencing for people convicted of impaired driving causing death and for the Criminal Code of Canada to be changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving causing death as vehicular manslaughter.

Source: Metro Edmonton


 

Last updated on: 2013-07-01 | Link to this post